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Malcolm X in Hartford, Conn., in June 1963. Photo: Bettmann/Contributor

The family of Malcolm X released a letter Saturday purportedly written by a now-deceased police officer alleging that the New York Police Department and FBI were behind the 1965 assassination of the Black civil rights leader.

Why it matters: Scholars and civil rights advocates have long said men charged with killing Malcolm X, later known as el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz, in New York’s Audubon Ballroom were wrongly convicted. Some have alleged police and federal agents played a role in his death.

Driving the news: The family made public the letter attributed to Raymond Wood, a former undercover NYPD officer, who confessed before dying that the NYPD and FBI conspired in the assassination.

  • Wood wrote that he was ordered to see that Malcolm X would have no door security in the Harlem building where he was scheduled to speak.
  • Daughters of Malcolm X released details of the letter at the former site of their father's assassination and said they waited until Wood's death to speak about it over fears of retaliation from authorities.
  • "Any evidence that provides greater insight into the truth behind that terrible tragedy should be thoroughly investigated," Ilyasah Shabazz, one of Malcolm X's daughters, said at the press conference.

Flashback: Muhammad Aziz, Mujahid Abdul Halim and Khalil Islam were convicted of killing the civil rights leader and sentenced to life in prison.

  • Aziz and Islam denied they were connected to any plot to kill Malcolm X. Halim had said the two were not involved.
  • Malcolm X was killed after he publicly broke with Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad and while he was being closely monitored by the FBI.

Between the lines: Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office announced last year his office would revisit the 1965 assassination following the release of a Netflix series questioning the investigation into Malcolm X's death.

NYPD said in a statement it has “provided all available records relevant to that case to the District Attorney."

  • "The department remains committed to assist with that review in any way."
  • The FBI declined to comment.

The big picture: Malcolm X is seeing a renewed interest amid the Black Lives Matter movement and calls from advocates to diversify school history lessons to tackle systemic racism.

  • "The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X," written by the late journalist, Les Payne, and his daughter, Tamara, won the 2020 National Book Award for Nonfiction.
  • The book shows how Malcolm X's intellectual development as a Black nationalist stemmed partly from his preacher father and his multilingual mother, who worked as a journalist.
  • The book also uncovered Malcolm X's experience attending a school with white students where he became popular and how he learned to grow better marijuana from Mexican immigrants in Michigan.

Go deeper

Trio of Saturday mass shootings rock U.S.

Police officers in New York City's Times Square on Saturday. Photo: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

The U.S. was hit by mass shootings in New York City's Times Square, a shopping mall in Florida and at a townhome near Baltimore that left four people dead, including the suspected shooter.

The big picture: Since President Biden took office in January, over 700 people have been injured or killed in 139 mass shootings as of late last month.

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Scottish first minister vows independence referendum after election win

Scotland's First Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party, Nicola Sturgeon, reacts after being declared the winner of the Glasgow Southside seat at Glasgow counting centre in the Emirates Arena in Glasgow on Friday. Photo: Andy Buchanan /AFP via Getty Images

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced plans Saturday for a second independence referendum once the pandemic has abated following the country's parliamentary elections.

The big picture: Sturgeon's Scottish National Party won 64 seats, one seat short of an outright majority in the 129-seat Parliament. But most seats went to pro-independence parties.

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A health worker moving an oxygen cylinder in a coronavirus ward of a hospital in New Delhi on May 8. Photo: Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

India saw its deadliest day of the pandemic yet with more than 4,180 confirmed COVID-19 deaths reported Saturday.

Why it matters: The country has recorded more than 21.8 million coronavirus cases and 238,270 deaths since the pandemic began. The true numbers, however, are likely much higher, experts say, as the country battles a continued surge in cases that has left hospitals and health workers overwhelmed.